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Santa Ana's Mayor Fined $1,000 After Financial Disclosure Lawsuit

The plaintiff, a longtime political rival, caught Miguel Pulido's failure to report his role in two developments just outside the city border.

September 26, 2003|Jennifer Mena | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County Superior Court judge has ordered Santa Ana Mayor Miguel A. Pulido to pay $1,000 for failing to disclose his financial interests just outside the city's borders.

The decision, made Tuesday by Judge Robert D. Monarch, resolves a lawsuit pursued by Nativo V. Lopez, a former school board member who has sparred with Pulido for two decades about the city's future. A written decision is not expected for several weeks.

Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, an immigrant rights organization headed by Lopez, filed the lawsuit two years ago, alleging that the mayor had not fully declared his business interests on economic disclosure forms that California public officials file annually. This year, Pulido campaigned for the successful recall of Lopez from the Santa Ana Unified School District board.

The civil judgment "established as a matter of law that this politician violated the law designed to protect the public from illegal political practices," said Lopez attorney Chris Nicoll.

Pulido, who was elected mayor in 1994, and his attorneys also billed the ruling as a victory. Pulido attorney Charles McClung noted that months ago, the judge ordered Hermandad to pay $700 to Pulido for failing to produce documents in connection with the lawsuit. As a result, McClung said, the mayor's net cost because of the judgment is $300.

Pulido was ordered to pay $500 to Hermandad and $500 to the state.

The judge "in essence said that I acted in good faith. He said there was no prejudice to the public, meaning that no one was ever hurt by this," Pulido said.

At issue were Pulido's declarations to the state Fair Political Practices Commission. In 1999 Pulido teamed up with developer Kris Kakkar to build senior housing and a hotel a quarter-mile outside the city's border, which should have been publicly disclosed, according to state law because it is within two miles of the city's border.

But that year, Pulido's economic-interest statement listed only his muffler shop and a Santa Ana rental property. He amended his declaration in August 2000 to reflect the two additional addresses without further explanation.

Nicoll said the judgment confirmed that Pulido had violated the public trust.

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